Title: Sleep Apnea
Category: Diseases and Conditions
Last Editorial Review: 8/3/2010
Source: MedicineNet Snoring Specialty
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by a reduction or pause of breathing (airflow) during sleep. It is common among adults but rare among children. Although a diagnosis of sleep apnea often will be suspected on the basis of a person’s medical history, there are several tests that can be used to confirm the diagnosis. The treatment of sleep apnea may be either surgical or nonsurgical.
An apnea is a period of time during which breathing stops or is markedly reduced. In simplified terms, an apnea occurs when a person stops breathing for 10 seconds or more. If you stop breathing completely or take less than 25% of a normal breath for a period that lasts 10 seconds or more, this is an apnea. This definition includes complete stoppage of airflow. Other definitions of apnea that may be used include at least a 4% drop in oxygen in the blood, a direct result of the reduction in the transfer of oxygen into the blood when breathing stops.
Apneas usually occur during sleep. When an apnea occurs, sleep usually is disrupted due to inadequate breathing and poor oxygen levels in the blood. Sometimes this means the person wakes up completely, but sometimes this can mean the person comes out of a deep level of sleep and into a more shallow level of sleep. Apneas are usually measured during sleep (preferably in all stages of sleep) over a two-hour period. An estimate of the severity of apnea is calculated by dividing the number of apneas by the number of hours of sleep, giving an apnea index (AI in apneas per hour); the greater the AI, the more severe the apnea. Read More… >>